The staff at the SBA (United States Small Business Administration) released a major news release recently announcing small businesses can now watch videos from the SBA on YouTube. Wow! What a wonderful use of our taxpayer money. And while the SBA is producing and posting videos, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said just this past Friday, there is still strong need for federal support for small business loans as the U.S. Treasury continues to work on a new program aimed at aiding small business lending.
So why is the SBA wasting time and spending our money producing and posting videos? There are countless sites on the Internet that provide training videos and other “how-to” information so why doesn’t the SBA focus its energy on figuring out a strategy to get financing into the hands of small business owners. Small business lending is up only slightly after plummeting last year, and entrepreneurs remain unable to get the funds they need to keep their doors open. You’d think this would be the top priority at the SBA – not posting videos and sending out news releases. I just don’t get why the SBA would invest vital funds and use government employees to create a video channel on YouTube.
Apparently I am not the only small business owner who doesn’t understand. As of Friday, SBA’s YouTube channel had about 150 subscribers after a full month in operation and a big media push. Business owners aren’t buying the SBA’s public relations campaign. The SBTV.com editorial team and I have heard from lots of business owners who’ve gone through the SBA loan process and describe it as a waste of time. One frustrated veteran entrepreneur says the program is only for enterprises that don’t need the money. Small business owners who are hanging on for dear life won’t find any answers on the SBA’s YouTube channel.
I’ve recommended the Obama Administration and Congress consider utilizing the SBA’s Disaster Loan program which allows the agency to provide direct loans to small businesses in designated disaster area. Congress has the power to declare certain areas of the country disaster areas for the purpose of this program. Many veteran SBA staffers agree with this strategy too, but are too afraid to go on the record publicly. While this isn’t a panacea for the long-term, it will help place funds in the hands of small businesses so they can truly be the economic engine to lead the nation out of the current downturn. Small businesses need financing – not videos from the SBA.